"To preserve the reputation of the Fraternity unsullied must be your constant care."


Monday, May 09, 2022

Fraternal Swords Aren't Always Masonic

by Christopher Hodapp

A lady with the last name of Tobias sent me an email early this morning asking for help identifying what she thought was a Masonic sword that belonged to her grandfather. The engraved name on the sword blade was 'U.S. Grant Tobias.' It was a very typical fraternal group sword from Ward or Ames or Pettibone, or one of the several other companies making these since the 1860s. And they made thousands of them.

While attempting to save her message after reading it on my phone, I accidentally deleted her note and the photos. And I don't mean 'rescue-it-from-your-trash-folder' deleted, but double deleted it even from that folder. I've tried all the restoration tricks I know of, to no avail. 

So, if you are Ms. Tobias, the answer is no, the sword in your photos is not Masonic. 
Unfortunately, I only glanced at the photos for a few seconds before I stupidly deleted them. But I did look at them long enough to identify the symbols.

The scabbard is indeed from the American Legion veterans association. But the sword itself has the very Masonic-looking square and compass with an upraised arm holding a hammer in the center that denotes the Junior Order of United American Mechanics on its counter-guard. It's easy to get it confused with the Masonic symbol, but the two groups are not related. 

It's odd that the JrO. U.A.M. sword would have an American Legion scabbard - perhaps he belonged to the two groups simultaneously. Or he may have lost or damaged the proper one for the JrO. U.A.M. and just substituted the American Legion scabbard so it would be protected.

Both organizations are still in operation today.

In any case, the best source of information for identifying these antique swords is John D. Hamilton's indispensable book, The American Fraternal Sword: An Illustrated Reference Guide. Highly recommended, especially for fraternal museums, collectors and antique dealers.

Thursday, May 05, 2022

Ohio's Chad Simpson Passes Away

by Christopher Hodapp

NOTE: This story has been updated 5/6/2022 5:00PM:

It was a shock for me today to spot a Facebook post from Arts and Sciences Lodge 792 in Ohio reporting the death of Brother Chad Edward Simpson on Monday, May 2nd. He was just 49 years old.

I've known Chad almost since the day I became a Master Mason, and if memory serves, we joined the fraternity in the same year. In the early 2000s a group of us connected regularly via Masonic email groups and online forums, long before the arrival of Facetwit and Twitbook. In those days, a new crop of Masons were decrying the dearth of Masonic education being conducted at the lodge level. Ohio was one of the first handful of grand lodges that had an internet presence with a public website (and the highly coveted freemason.com domain name), and Chad jumped into promoting Masonry and Masonic education online. He was soon to become the Director of Development for the GL of Ohio, a position he held for two decades. Chad also became a cheerleader for the Midwest Conference on Masonic Education.

While there's no official funeral home obituary available yet, Brother "bmkecck" on Reddit this week posted the following message that lists just a few of Chad's numerous Masonic accomplishments and associations: 

Chad was Director of Program Development for the Grand Lodge of Ohio for almost 20 years, so was instrumental in implementing a number of things that are now standard in the jurisdiction: Candidate Counseling materials, the Master Craftsman Program, Officer's Manual; the written Code, Officer's Manual and Ancient Charges exams; PR funds-matching program, Lodge Education Officer's Manual, multiple education programs. He was editor of the Ohio Beacon Masonic newsletter, highly involved in the Midwest Conference on Masonic Education; one of the charter members of Arts and Sciences Lodge #792, Ohio's first 'TO Lodge (although they'll tell you that they aren't TO'; one of the founders of the Masonic Restoration Foundation and the Masonic Education Traveling Roadshow, among many, many other things in Ohio.
He was a Past Master of York Lodge #563, was given the honorary title of Immediate Past Master of Arts and Sciences #792 by unanimous resolution when the Lodge received it's charter; a past District Education Officer of the 14th Masonic District, was a Knight of the York Cross of Honor and received his 33rd degree from the Valley of Columbus in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Along with Chad Kopenski, they formed the often joked about 'Ohio Chads' to create programs, materials, and events in Masonic education. The 'Ohio Chads' were working together on next year's Midwest Conference on Masonic Education upon Brother Simpson's death.

He loved Freemasonry, was an avid concertina player and knitting enthusiast, was a fierce friend who saw the best in others and worked to help them see themselves the way that he saw them.

He is of that generation 'ago' so that many Masons here didn't know him or know of him; but, believe me, he was the kind of person that you'd appreciate having as a Brother and love having as a friend.

Chad Simpson was of those incredible people who touched countless lives and influenced so many others, often without realizing it himself. His death was quite sudden and unexpected. Please keep his wife Bridget and their family in your thoughts and prayers.

His column is broken, and his Brethren mourn. 

Requiescat in pace.

UPDATE: Chad's official obituary was just posted on the funeral home's website HERE. It is reprinted below:

Chad Simpson, 49, of Columbus, passed away on May 2, 2022. He was born on February 2, 1973 to the late Robert Simpson and Shirley Osborne. In addition to his parents, Chad was preceded by his grandparents, Elmer and Betty Krebs; and his cats, Adah and Esther.

Chad was an active Freemason in Ohio, and worked at the Grand Lodge for nearly 18 years. Chad was a powerful influence and leader of Freemasonry, and a friend and mentor who left his imprint on thousands of lives. He was a perfectionist, and never shy with his opinion, yet his guidance was always given with love and humor.

In recent years, Chad was a part of the team at the Wesley Communities. He made a difference through his thoughtful approach to fundraising on behalf of the Communities, and changed lives by building a family amongst residents and staff alike, always willing to give a listening ear and a helping hand.

Chad recently took up hobbies including playing concertina and knitting, to the delight of family and friends. He had a lifelong love of cooking, a skill he first learned from his grandmother. Chad had a number of interests and hobbies that he shared freely with others, one of the wonderful things that made him such a unique and delightful person. And he had a special place in his heart for his kitty cats, whom he loved dearly.

Chad will be greatly missed by his loving wife of 18 ½ years, Bridget Simpson; brothers, Jerry (Katie) Grafe, Cory (Kate) Simpson, Casey Simpson, and Dan (Cindy) Simpson; nieces and nephews, Jenna and Madison Grafe, Megan (Wesley) Doyle, and Tyler, Chloe, and Addie Simpson, Josette, Joseph, Jacob, and Samantha Simpson, and Clare and Penelope Simpson; great nieces and nephews, Madeline Doyle, Grayson Sanborn, and Sophia Adame; father and mother in-law Louis and Margaret Sass; brother in-law Matthew (Samantha) Sass; and two cats, Ruthie and Lydia.

A Masonic Service will be held on Monday, May 16, 2022 at 5PM and a visitation will follow and go until 8PM at the Schoedinger Worthington funeral home, 6699 North High Street, Worthington OH, 43085. A visitation will be on Tuesday, May 17, 2022, from 11AM until 12PM at Wesley Glen Retirement Community, 5155 North High Street, Columbus OH, 43214. A Funeral Service will follow at 12PM. All are welcome at both services.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Chad Simpson Memorial Scholarship Fund (established in Chad’s name to support young scholars in our community – he received a Masonic scholarship as a youth, his first introduction to the kindness and brotherhood of Freemasonry) and the Wesley Glen Retirement Community Employee Emergency Fund (a fund Chad created at Wesley Glen that was especially important to him – to give, select the “Wesley Glen Other” designation and type “Employee Emergency Fund” in the comments).

Wednesday, May 04, 2022

Bazillionare Elon Musk Twitters "Freemasons"; Masons Go Wild

by Christopher Hodapp

Online Masonic forums and Facebook pages were all atwitter Tuesday over a Twitter tweet by Elon Musk in which he referenced Freemasons.

Musk announced his purchase of a majority of the company's stock last week and posted this message as part of a thread opining on the possibility of charging a fee to use the platform. 

What was kind of amazing were the reactions of a lot of Masons over Musk simply mentioning the fraternity. 

"He noticed us! He noticed us!"

Odder were the responses of Masons who didn't get the joke he was making.

"Free? What's he talking about? My lodge charges $200 a year!"

Don't get excited - Musk was making a wisecrack, not nosing around for a lodge to join.

Tuesday, May 03, 2022

GL of South Carolina Expels PGM Cal Disher

by Christopher Hodapp

After a Masonic trial conducted during the April annual communication of the Grand Lodge A.F.M. of South Carolina, the assembled brethren voted 444 to 290 to expel the immediate Past Grand Master (2019-21), Walter Calhoun "Cal" Disher II (photo above).

Disher's Masonic trial was conducted by the Grand Lodge. Four charges of violating his obligation as a Master Mason as well as provisions of their Constitution were filed in November 2021 by Batesburg-Leesville Lodge 138. Disher was ultimately found guilty on all four counts, two of which required mandatory expulsion.

Mister Disher's tempestuous two years as Grand Master during the Covid pandemic were marred by personality clashes and much open hostility. Masons were expelled, lodges had their charters revoked, and longtime friendships were broken.

Disher and PGM Jay Adam Pearson were both at the center of controversy in 2021 after Disher expelled PGM Michael D. Smith from the fraternity for allegedly holding unauthorized Scottish Rite business meetings online via Zoom. Disher had issued an edict banning all online Masonic business meetings during the pandemic. At the time, PGM Smith was serving as the Lieutenant Grand Commander for the Scottish Rite, and SGIG for South Carolina. 

Smith was reinstated to the fraternity after a tumultuous annual communication following the surprise election in April of PGM Ronald C. Mitchum (2005-07) to serve again as Grand Master for 2021-22.

Illus. Michael Smith subsequently died on November 17, 2021. The following month, 
Past Grand Masters Cal Disher and Jay Adam Pearson were stripped of both the 33rd degree and Knight Commander of the Court of Honor (KCCH) by the Supreme Council of the Scottish Rite (SJ)

This saga may not be over yet. I understand that there may be more charges filed against some of the other players in this long, sad tale.

In other business, Grand Master Ronald C. Mitchum was re-elected to a second one-year term.

For the background to this story, visit the following links:

South Carolina PGM Mike Smith Expelled Over Zoom Meeting

UPDATED: Irony At Its Most Ironic-est

Lodge Presents Charges Against South Carolina Grand Master and Officers

'The Plot Thickens' in the GL of South Carolina as Annual Meeting Looms

Breaking: S. Carolina PGM Mike Smith Expulsion Overturned; Lodges Restored

South Carolina PGMs Disher and Pearson Stripped of Scottish Rite Honors

Sunday, May 01, 2022

Hollywood's Newest Illumi-nuttiness

by Christopher Hodapp

This year Hollywood is going goofy for Illuminati references in two new projects, and just in time for the 246th anniversary of Adam Weishaupt's very real founding of the group on May 1st, 1776 today. 

In classic murder mystery stories of the 1920s and 30s, the final, last-chapter solution was generally "the butler did it." Similarly, in classic conspiracy theories of the last two and a half centuries, "the Illuminati did it" is in there somewhere, if you just dig hard enough. And half the time, there's some allusion to the Illuminati being Masons.

Perhaps the Illuminati is actually made up of scheming, murderous butlers. Maybe murderous Masonic butlers.

A couple of new big-money movie projects are dropping this week that seem to be a major shift away from the classical Illuminati-based conspiracism of the past. The new trailer for Marvel's Doctor Strange 2: In the Multiverse of Madness (good name for this particular topic) dropped this week, with the tag line, "In 10 days… nothing will prepare you for the truth." The "truth" apparently, is that whatever it is that the entire Marvel multiverse is fighting, The Illuminati™is probably at the root of it. Or something. 

Meanwhile, at the other end of the spectrum, Netflix is debuting a new comedy series with Michael Meyers. The Pentaverate will premiere on Thursday, May 5, posing the poser, “What if a secret society of five men — aka The Pentaverate — has been working to influence world events for the greater good since the Black Plague of 1347?” Or, the Illuminati by another name.
Conspiracists all the way from John Robison and the Abbé Barruel, up to the John Birch Society, Lyndon LaRouche followers, right up through today's QAnon nutters have clasped the Illuminati to their collective, paranoid bosoms and inflated their very real existence between 1776 and about 1785 into a never-ending, "everything is connected" collection of OCD-afflicted New World Order architects, quislings and henchmen. But Hollywood hasn't really done much over the years in the way of using the Illuminati as all-purpose gray eminences. Even the film version of Dan Brown's Angels & Demons only played around with Illuminati references like the novel did, weaseling out in the end by making them nothing but a madman's hoax.

Whenever Hollywood wanted to bring in global bad guy clubs, they'd usually give them imaginary acronyms like SMERSH, SPECTRE, THRUSH, CHAOS, WASP, COBRA to name a few. But these days, Hollywood seems to be rehabilitating the old image of mysterious global puppet masters into a kinder, gentler bunch of altruistic fellows who are only doing secret world-saving deeds for our own good. 

For instance, when the Peacock series of Brown's Masonic-filled The Lost Symbol made it to the screen as a miniseries, the writers of the show decided that us 33° Scottish Rite Masons couldn't possibly be important or spooky enough, so they invented a clutch of the sooperest, secretest level of big-degree, big-deal Freemasons, known as the Leviathan Group. And because they're SO very secret, they all wear special rings with a Leviathan cross to secretly identify themselves when they bump into each other in the Kroger checkout lane. The story goes that the Leviathans are entrusted with the safekeeping of The Ancient Mysteries™. But they also exist to help all of Mankind when needed by stepping in here and there at critical moments, guiding human events just at the right time and place, to protect civilization. 

I think the first time I encountered this story line was Gene Roddenberry's failed pilot for The Questor Tapes in the 1970s, about a race of self-replicating alien androids who build their own successor when they reach the end of their life cycle, and step in at critical moments to protect mankind from his own self-destruction. Sort of a virtuous robot Illuminati. 

I just ruined the end for you.

But a variation of the notion is much, much older. Hidden 'Secret Masters' who hide hidden secret secrets for the good of Mankind are a pretty common thread. They usually want to hide those secrets from all but TRUE Masters because you can't just let every schmo from Kokomo in on attaining true enlightenment.

Anyhow, to the subject at hand. 

Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness gets released on May 6th, and is directed by Sam Raimi. The picture stars stars Benedict Cumberbatch, Elizabeth Olsen, Benedict Wong, Rachel McAdams, Chiwetel Ejiofor, and Xochitl Gomez.

Note the tantalizing line: "The Illuminati... will see you now." Hopefully, the Illuminati characters won't be sporting "secret" square and compass rings.

According to Matt McGloin on the Comic Book News site yesterday, 
In the [Marvel] comics, the Illuminati were retconned to basically be responsible for trying to protect humanity and control things which saw various Marvel superheroes a part of the group in control of the Infinity Gems; however, their real-life counterparts, if you believe that sort of stuff, are hardly heroes as the Illuminati are said to be made up of racist Luciferians, pedophiles, high-level Freemasons, Jesuits, the Vatican, politicians, celebrities, sports figures, etc. who are bent on creating a new world order.
In other words, Marvel's GOOD Illuminati made up of heroes from Avengers, Wakanda, Atlantis, and occasional mutants who control the Infinity Gems and do what's best for the world. That was in the comics. As for how the "Illuminati" gets used in the movie version, we'll have to wait for the movie's release to find out just what the truth is that nothing will prepare us for. 

Then there's Mike Meyers' variation on the theme - The Pentaverate.

I'm given to understand that many scenes of the movie were, in fact, shot in and around London's magnificent Freemasons' Hall, home of the United Grand Lodge of England

As you can see in the trailer below, variations of the square and compass and the All Seeing Eye run rampant in the footage.

What seems curious about both of these projects is that, unlike most story lines that use the Illuminati as a stand in for eeevil New World Order/United Nations/Trilateral Commission/Bilderberger groups, both of these projects are apparently trying to rehabilitate the image of world-controlling gray eminences by making us out to be the GOOD guys. Which, I suppose, makes sense if They really do control Hollywood after all...

PLEASE NOTE: I hate posting any story with the word 'Illuminati' in it because I get treated to 300 daily attempts of posting "Join the Illuminati!" spam comments. Please forgive any delay in approving comments - it takes a while to trudge through the sludge. But just to clarify, no you can't join the Illuminati and you're a five-alarm boob if you think giving your Mom's credit card number to an anonymous basement dwelling scammer will somehow get you ahead in life. 

But if you really are compelled to give money to total strangers, you'd be much better off dropping twenty smackers on our book, Conspiracy Theories and Secret Societies For Dummies. Here's an Amazon link. Quick! Go get Mom's VISA card.

If you have a serious interest in the actual Illuminati, its founding, its purposes, its methods and rituals, Josef Wages' and Reinhard Markner's book The Secret School of Wisdom: The Authentic Rituals and Doctrines of the Illuminati is where you need to start. Their work (and the translation skills of the late Jeva Singh-Anand) is vitally important for anyone wanting to more fully understand the organization that was founded in 1776 in Bavaria and survived for just a decade - important because it is the first time that the actual rituals of the order have all been collected together in one place (in German or English). Anyone wishing to study the Illuminati for any reason needs this volume. Indeed, the 30-page introduction alone provides a concise, footnoted and well summarized history of the foundation and structure - along with the personalities involved - of the real group that has come to represent a true "secret society" to so many people around the world for more than two centuries.

Wednesday, April 27, 2022

David Staples Resigning as U.G.L.E.'s CEO and Grand Secretary

by Christopher Hodapp

The United Grand Lodge of England's First Rising email newsletter arrived Monday morning with a surprising message from Geoffrey Dearing, President of the UGLE's Board of General Purposes:

I'm sorry to announce that David Staples (CEO) has decided to resign from his role as Chief Executive Officer for United Grand Lodge of England with effect from 14 April 2022 although he will remain as Grand Secretary until 14 September 2022 and will attend the investiture events.

David has commented as follows:
“Being the Chief Executive Officer of the UGLE has been a singular privilege and honour, and I feel, with the completion and imminent launch of the new UGLE strategy for the next seven years, the time has come to hand on the mantle to someone new so that I can embark on new opportunities.

“The last four and a half years have seen an enormous rate of change within Freemasonry, and I am honoured to have been part of the journey. I have asked the President of the Board to allow me to step down as Chief Executive Officer and to begin the process for recruiting my successor to take the organisation forward into a new chapter of its history. Recognising my desire to move on to new and different challenges, he has kindly agreed. With leave of the Most Worshipful Grand Master, I will be continuing in my role as Grand Secretary until such time as a successor has been appointed in my stead, at which time, as is right and proper, I should expect to step down from office in his favour. I would like to thank you for your enormous hard work and support whilst in tenure and I wish you all, and the United Grand Lodge of England, the very best for the future.”

 I would like to thank David for his hard work and commitment during his time in office, which has led to many positive improvements within Freemasonry. I wish him well in the future.

Geoffrey Dearing, President of the Board of General Purposes

Dr. David Staples has been a Freemason since 1997 when he was initiated into Apollo University Lodge No. 357 in Oxford. He later became Master of Middlesex Lodge No. 143 in 2006 and was appointed Metropolitan Grand Steward in 2011. He was was appointed to the newly created role of Chief Executive Officer of UGLE in September 2017, and invested as Grand Secretary (the youngest in UGLE's history) in April 2018. He quickly became the public face of the Freemasons in England.

Dr. Staples' accomplishments since becoming CEO and Grand Secretary just four years ago are impressive, to say the least. Whether it is the growth and promotion of the UGLE's University Scheme, the opening of a cafe and bar and the beautiful new Letchworth's Masonic Shop in Freemasons Hall, new advertising and promotional campaigns, classical music performances in Freemasons Hall's breathtaking Grand Lodge Temple, and much more. 

Additionally, unlike some of his predecessors in the Grand Lodge who seemed reticent to deal with the press, Staples has quickly made the rounds of news shows and media interviews whenever a story involving the fraternity arises. 

In the last 50 years or so, UGLE and their subordinate lodges have made massive donations to the communities in which they reside, especially for local police, fire and rescue services. Dr. Staples has been especially proactive about issuing press releases and speaking with the media to highlight these contributions throughout the country. Besides local and regional donations made by individual lodges and district Grand Lodges, funds distributed by UGLE's charitable trusts each year consistently make it one of the top private philanthropic organizations in the country.

But in spite of their ongoing generosity to the public year after year, English Freemasons have suffered mightily at the hands of the press, really ever since the publication in the 1980s of Steven Knight's anti-Masonic screed, The Brotherhood, which made completely false allegations of improper Masonic influences in Britain's institutions, especially law enforcement agencies and the courts. English reporters seem to always be on the lookout for an opportunity to invent a Masonic scandal or secret plot, and public comments on these stories are usually filled with "my old man got sacked because of the bloody Masons and their dodgy handshakes!" messages. Once a smear is in the headlines, it bores into the collective minds of the public at large, perpetuating anti-Masonic myths on into the future.

Suffice it to say that institutional silence by grand lodges in the face of anti-Masonic campaigns in the media has not served us well in the modern age. And so, upon becoming the CEO for UGLE, David Staples became very proactive in defense of the fraternity.

In 2018 when the Guardian newspaper published a series of inflammatory attack articles and opinion pieces making false accusations, Staples quickly responded. Multiple news sites quickly began to reprint parts of the story, and embellish it on their own. Knowing full well that any news outlet would do no more than selectively quote any letter or press release, the UGLE followed up Staples' response to the Guardian and other news outlets with full page advertisements in the Telegraph, the Times and other major papers in England, declaring 'Enough Is Enough.'  

The hashtag #EnoughIsEnough quickly spread among members.

Perhaps it's only an illusion or wishful thinking, but since the #EnoughIsEnough campaign in 2018, there seems to have been a sharp reduction in anti-Masonic reporting in Britain. 

In an appearance on the BBC, Staples had the perfect rejoinder to non-Masons who leveled completely false accusations and conspiracy theories at the fraternity: "The trouble about Freemasonry is that, if you want a medical opinion, you go and ask a doctor. If you want to know about how to build a building, you go and ask an architect. But if you want to know about Freemasonry, you ask absolutely everybody but a Freemason." 

Dr. Staples hasn't publicly said what his future plans may be, but his achievements for the fraternity are a lasting legacy. We wish him well in all his endeavors, and hope his successors continue to build upon the foundations he has laid.

Tuesday, April 26, 2022

Brother Seeks Kidney Transplant Donor

by Christopher Hodapp

It's not often that we encounter a grand hailing sign in the real world, but I received this message privately about a Masonic Brother who is truly in distress. As the message explains, he is in desperate need of a kidney transplant. And unlike most appeals we come across in the wild these days, this one can't be solved by just clicking a Paypal donation button. This one requires true sacrifice on the part of a potential donor.

(Please note: I'm withholding this Brother's identity in public posts, at his request. But suffice it to say, I know who he is, and I fully understand his reasons for reticence at this particular moment.)

Twelve people die each day waiting for a kidney transplant.

One of our Brothers is one of the 37 million people in the U.S. impacted by kidney disease.

This Masonic brother is a young man who has dedicated his life to helping others. His weekends are full of activities like helping the homeless, fighting health care inequities, and caring for seniors. He is loved by his community and is on the path to create systematic changes in his community to help other people avoid healthcare disparities like the one he has suffered from. Despite this, his own health is beginning to deteriorate and a willing brother can be all the help he needs to save his life and keep him on his path.

To give background about this young Brother, at a young age, he was diagnosed with kidney failure. He spent years waiting for a recipient through the long and tedious organ transplant process with no avail. Through these years he experienced what many would call living a half-life since his body would only allow him to operate at half capacity. This process found him at the DaVita dialysis center every other day having needles stuck into him to painfully remove toxins from his body, a process that takes hours. Thankfully, his luck changed and he was able to briefly function without dialysis.

However, his fate yet again changed. He was recently informed that he has less than six months left with his kidney. He is desperately and urgently seeking a new kidney.

Now he is reaching out to his Freemason brothers to save his life in order to invest his efforts to save the lives of others who may be in this similar situation.

There are risks involved for a donor. But while becoming a living kidney donor may seem like a daunting endeavor, it is a safe procedure. For more information, please click here.

If you, or anyone you know, can help save his life please send an email to kidneyhelp2@gmail.com.

According to the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS), more than 100,000 people in the U.S. are waiting for kidney transplants at the present time, and more living donors are desperately needed. While transplants involving relatives have long proven to be the most successful over time because of the blood relationship between donor and patient, that is not an option in this case. And in reality, because of improved medications and techniques, a genetic link between the donor and recipient is no longer required to ensure a successful transplant. However, donors must be healthy and match the recipient's blood type and antigens, so it requires extensive testing to determine compatibility. 

The long-term success rates of living transplants are usually much higher than those from deceased donors. In many cases, recipients of living donor kidney transplants can enjoy proper kidney function for an average of 12-20 years, and even longer, but there are no guarantees. There should be no illusions about transplants — a recipient's new kidney may properly function for the rest of their life, while another's can begin to fail again in a matter of months, in spite of exhaustive pre-testing for compatibility, new developments in anti-rejection drugs, and a letter-perfect transplant operation.

There are scores of questions that a potential donor will have answered if they are a match for this Brother, but the very first step is to be tested to find out if it is even a possibility before considering going further. Some very general questions can be answered on the UNOS websiteThere are possible risks to the donor, as in any surgical procedure. But complications or additional surgeries for the donor are statistically tiny. Initial screening, testing, and pre-operative preparation can be done at a hospital in your own hometown, but the actual transplant will require traveling to the recipient's hospital and several overnight stays before and after the operation. 

As Masons we are urged within the allegories of our ceremonies and obligations to know ourselves. We're not often asked to stretch to the farthest limits of our cabletows. Live kidney donation is not a decision to be taken lightly, because it does involve major surgery and a recovery period. But it's one of the greatest and most selfless gifts anyone can offer to make to another human being. Look in your heart, discuss it with your family, and consider giving this gift of life to our distressed Brother by contacting him directly at kidneyhelp2@gmail.com.

Tuesday, April 19, 2022

Crowdfunding Campaign for Indiana University's Center for Fraternal Collections & Research

by Christopher Hodapp

(UPDATED: The faulty hyperlinks to the Center's crowdfunding contribution page has been fixed. My apologies to all for the error.)

Back in August 2021, Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana announced the opening of the new Center for Fraternal Collections & Research (CFCR), headed up by Dr. Heather Calloway. This Wednesday, April 20th is #IUDay at Indiana University and the Center is attempting to raise $5,000 with a crowdfunding campaign to help establish an endowment.

The mission of the CFCR is to collect, preserve, and protect objects and ephemera of fraternal and religious groups for study and research in a permanent and accessible collection. 

During the "Golden Age of Fraternalism" from the end of the American Civil War until the Great Depression, over a thousand fraternal, ritual-based or "secret societies" formed in the U.S. For too long, American fraternalism wasn't considered to be important enough for respectable historians to investigate. Yet the fraternal movement with its so-called "secret societies" was critical to the building and strengthening of American communities, and every bit as important as churches, political clubs and parties, social activist groups, and other local institutions. Masons, Elks, Odd Fellows, Knights of Pythias, Red Men, Woodmen - these were the most widely known. But there were hundreds and hundreds more. 

Besides camaraderie, the groups often provided insurance benefits, mutual aid, funeral funds and more. These groups weren't just for white, middle-class men or college students – there were societies that supported immigrant and ethnic communities, religious denominations, women, children, even certain professions or occupations, such as traveling salesmen (National Travelers) or logging workers (Concatenated Order of Hoo Hoo).

Current generations have little or no understanding of the very existence and importance of these organizations, and too many of their publications, artwork, artifacts and jewelry disappear into the garbage or get melted down for their precious metals. The CFCR is now a welcome and secure repository for the quickly vanishing ephemera of American fraternal history. 

The CFCR is located in the new IU Collections, Teaching, Research and Exhibition Center, located in the historic McCalla building on the IU Bloomington campus. Following a $6 million renovation of this one-time elementary school building, the Center now provides a safe, climate controlled facility for collections, plus seven display galleries, meeting areas, and a state-of-the-art media digitization and preservation department, all under one roof.

So if you're interested in helping to support this new center, CLICK HERE to donate for #IUDay.

Sunday, April 10, 2022

Welcome Brothers: GL of Ohio Raises 780 in Statewide One Day Class

by Christopher Hodapp

On March 26th, the Grand Lodge of Ohio F&AM conferred the Entered Apprentice, Fellow Craft and Master Mason degrees on a total of 780 candidates as part of a statewide One Day Class at several locations. Naturally, the Masonic Intertube discussion boards, Twitbook, and Facetwit sites went mildly berserk over the news. As many as 780 may sound, it's only about 10% of the record 7,700 Masons raised by the Grand Lodge of Ohio at a similar statewide one day event back in 2002.

Even though these types of mass membership events originated thirty years ago, they continue to remain controversial within the fraternity. Indeed, many online discussions that took up the subject over the last couple of weeks sounded every bit as vitriolic as they did twenty years ago.


The first 'Grand Master's Class' was held in 1992 as a two-day festival by the Grand Lodge of the District of Columbia . In that single event, their small jurisdiction raised 113 candidates — an astonishing 55% of all of DC's candidates for the entire year of 1992. 

Despite having no internet in those days, it didn’t take long for the word to spread. By the next February, DC's event—the first mass raising of Master Masons of its kind—was the heated talk of the Conference of Grand Masters. The practice picked up steam nationwide in a startlingly short time, especially for an institution as resistant to change as Freemasonry. By 1998, the Grand Lodge of New Jersey trumpeted that 96 lodges participated in their first one-day degree event, and raised 434 new Master Masons.

At the time, the bulk of Freemasons worldwide were aghast, and more than a few foreign grand bodies grumbled about perhaps withdrawing recognition of their U.S. counterparts that had held such mass raisings. While similarly massive events were overwhelmingly typical of degrees conferred on large classes of Scottish Rite members, the vast majority of Masons agreed that they were wholly inappropriate for new initiates into the fraternity. The three Symbolic Lodge degrees—especially for the Entered Apprentice and the Master Mason—were particularly considered to be individual and deeply personal experiences. At best, critics alleged, men made Masons in a day or two would undoubtedly be the fastest ones to leave. They would fail to become proficient in the required memory work. If they remained members at all, they certainly would cease to participate, much less take on the requirements to become officers. Lodges that relied on such classes to do all of their degree work for them would quickly lose any ability to confer their own degrees forever. In short, the naysayers claimed, the entire fraternity would be both cheapened and robbed—from the candidates themselves, right down to the lodges and their own members.

Ohio's Record-Setting Class of 2002

By 2001 at least thirty-one U.S. grand lodges had conducted one or more of these events in varying permutations. Then in April 2002, Ohio left everyone else in the statistical dust, setting the astonishing record of initiating, passing, and raising 7,700 Master Masons in multiple locations throughout the state in a single day. Throughout the seven years prior to their first enormous Grand Master’s Class, the state of Ohio had raised a combined total of 10,341 Master Masons in the traditional, individual manner. Their 2002 Grand Master’s one-day event nearly doubled their entire prior seven-year membership increase in just a matter of hours. The rest of the Masonic world’s nose-counters bolted straight up in their collective seats and took notice.

Ohio’s colossal one-day increase was never again equaled anywhere. They staged two more such events in 2003 and 2005, and studied the after-effects at the end of 2006. In a little more than five years, one-day Masons raised at their three events alone represented more than 10% of Ohio’s total Masonic membership. While their two subsequent classes never came close to equaling their enormous premiere event, other jurisdictions still looked enviously at Ohio and judged them a triumph. Numerically speaking, anyway.


One of the major criticisms from the start was an assumption that one-day Masons would not go on to become active lodge participants, proficient ritualists, or officers. “Easy in, easy out,” was the oft-repeated, doleful warning. But several jurisdictions that amassed enough data over time were able to disprove that assertion.

A study was conducted in 2001 by Paul M. Bessel for the Grand Lodge of the District of Columbia, which was the first of its kind to analyze the long-term results of such conferrals. Their grand lodge was unique, since they had conducted two-day degree events annually for eight years and had the data to analyze. Bessel found that the retention and participation rate of members initiated, passed, and raised in the slower, traditional manner, versus the Grand Master’s Class candidates, were statistically identical. Subsequent years demonstrated the same results, clearly disproving objections based only upon fears that dejected Master Masons who were disappointed or unimpressed by their one day experience would vanish faster than their traditionally raised brethren.

Other jurisdictions that bothered to investigate their own circumstances and results came to the same conclusions. Ohio did its own study in 2007, five years after their record setting class. In the three Grand Master’s Classes held between 2002 and 2005, they found that 8% of one-day class members were serving or had already served as lodge officers. That worked out to more than 1,000 officers in their 534 lodges, or almost two officers per lodge. The actual numbers among lodges varied—several reported as many as five of their current officers were one-day members. 

In addition, lodges reported an average of 15% of one-day members attended meetings regularly, which was virtually identical to (and often greater than) the participation rate of traditionally made Masons. Numerous lodge secretaries expressed the belief that one-day classes had actually “saved” their lodges. 

More recently, a 2015 study of current lodge officers in Washington State revealed that one out of six officers are one-day class members.

As of 2017, my own Grand Lodge of Indiana has raised a total of 6,976 Master Masons via one-day events since its first in 1997. Of those, 3,958 still remain Masons across those twenty years. Many have been officers and Worshipful Masters, and all have simply been as active or inactive as their traditionally-made brethren. To date, there have been several grand masters all across the U.S. who received their degrees at one-day events. 

Tens of thousands of U.S. Masons have been initiated, passed, and raised in one-day classes, and the loss of them due to inactivity and demits is no better or worse than traditionally made members. In Indiana’s case, figures clearly show that one-day Masons have actually remained members in a substantially greater percentage than those traditionally made.

That which was lost

The philosophical question as to the loss to the candidate of a more individual, transformative, initiatic experience is what cannot be measured. What has been commonly echoed by men who received the accelerated degrees is that they returned to their own lodges and discouraged their officers and fellow members from sending future candidates to them. So in their own way, one-day classes actually encourage lodges to increase their proficiency at conducting degree work, and not abandon it, as was initially feared by some. 

Retention and participation comes down solely to the way the members are treated and mentored once they start attending their lodges, and rests on the interest and dedication of each individual Mason. A one day class conferral of the three lodge degrees doesn't let the lodge and its members duck their responsibility to provide a trusted, knowledgable mentor to those brethren who need more coaching and education, not less. 

Maybe more to the point is that we don't have two classifications of Master Mason in this fraternity. If at their next meeting after their raising they are referred to by ostensible brethren as ‘McMasons,’ ‘Blue Lightenings,’ or ‘One Day Wonders,’ receive no mentoring follow up, and suffer through dull stated meetings with no Masonic education and un-Masonic infighting, they will be unlikely to send in their dues renewal in December.

One-day classes were developed largely in response to the screams of lodges over membership losses and their own inability to confer their own degree work. So, those early massive classes did exactly what the lodges begged for—they brought in new members, by the bucketful. One day classes will only end if lodges stop demanding them. As I've said repeatedly, if you have a visceral reaction against the practice, fault the lodge who sent him to the class, not the candidate who is now your Brother. 

The lodges that failed to keep them coming back managed to accomplish that part all by themselves.


This isn't the first time I've tried to tackle this topic, and probably won't be the last. Have a look at: